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With a goal of reading 50 new-to-me books this year, here are my books finished so far in FY 2017-2018*:

1. The Shadow Isle by Katharine Kerr
2. Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan
3. The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch
4. A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

* FY is a lot easier for me, because the end of the calendar year is usually a complete and utter disaster due to all the bankers wanting to book deals so that they can show up on the next bonus check.


The Silver Wyrm by Katharine Kerr

14 down, one to go. Which is to say that it's been a long-ass ride. I started re-reading the Katharine Kerr books after winning that auction to appear in the next book, starting with the first book and continuing on through to the ones that I hadn't read before, and like. Damn, it's a lot of words to read, and it's a lot of words to write, and I can totally get how Kerr got tired of this universe, but I really miss how good the writing was, say, circa A Time of Exile. I really miss the past-lives bits to show how the past influences the present and the future -- it was one of the things that made these books so special to me. I mean, how the fuck else am I going to get my appropriate ridiculous doses of forbidden love, revenge, and murder???????? WHERE AM I GOING TO READ ABOUT PETRYC AND DANY BEING ABLE TO LOVE EACH OTHER FOR ONE MORE AFTERNOON IN THE SUNLIGHT DAPPLED WOODS WITHOUT IT TURNING INTO A A NIGHTMARE?????*

* Spoiler: it turns into a nightmare, dany's former allies murder him dany on the road while he is riding to try and save pertyc's life and the life of pertyc's little half-elven son, pertyc puts an arrow through the man who killed dany and kicks the side of his head in to boot, and then he takes his son up and down the battlefield afterwards making him look at the carnage because this is what glory in war means, and someday you'll have a friend that you love like i loved dany you can sleep in my bed tonight because no doubt you'll have nightmares i did this is what it means to be a maelwaedd AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH EVEN AFTER ALL THESE YEARS I STILL LOVE IT

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

At this point, I'm basically hate-reading these books. Like, I read the first two out of a certain ????? Constance Wu is starring in the movie adaptation, and I love Constance Wu???? Plus, we all know how I enjoy rich people.

And there are little dribs and drabs that I enjoy, like the reference to how Asian moms will be ready to drop six figures on jewelry but pack six into a room on the floor of somebody's sister-in-law's cousin's daughter's apartment and eat ramen out of the suitcase while traveling, or a reference to Jacob's cream crackers being a comfort food that went home because my mother was very excited when she found Jacob's cream crackers at a grocery store near us -- but it's actually enraging seeing how good this series could be.

Like, the backbone of the last book is how badass the matriarch of the clan was during WWII. In terms of setups for INCREDIBLE-ASS DRAMA and weaponizing class entitlement for the pleasure of your readers. This is pure fucking gold! But instead of really focusing on that during the book, Kwan tucks into tiny little italicized digressions throughout, and mostly focuses on the completely ridiculous and boring romance between his Chosen Couples. I care so little about Charlie Wu beating people up in search of the ~~ perfect Astrid ~~ while she takes some space or wtfever -- tell me more about the Japanese taking over the main house, tell me more about Su Yi gambling with the Japanese, tell me more about Su Yi's father and his efforts to hide himself.

Another example: there are these fascinating bits from the POV the servants who have worked at her estate for decades, but it's just tiny little flashes, and none of the POV segments actually get to the racial and class issues. What does it feel like for the black-and-white amah? Does she ever regret the trade she made? Does she ever think abotu the children she could have had? How does she feel about any children that her brother had in Hong Kong? How does the head of securtiy feel about the RAMPANT FUCKING RACISM AND COLORISM that East Asians have against anybody browner than them?

And y'know, there's that little reminder of just how little Kevin Kwan cares about: the girl that Carlton killed in his shitty car accident in Book 2 gets mentioned again, BUT SHE STILL DOESN'T GET A NAME.

The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch

Technically a novella, rather than a full novel, but do you see me caring? No, you do not, because this is delightful in all respects -- nice blend of mystery and character and world expansion. It takes a while to get to the mystery, and there are some really tasty-sounding dangling ends that I'm hoping will be tied up elsewhere, but I really didn't even care, but I absolutely loved the bits about Abigail and her drive to get magical training, the lovely bits about Jaget and his wife and their fish-and-chip dates, Nightingale back in the day, and Beverley with the little tiny river god that moved into that old couple's home. Like, call it baby fever (because it is), but I found that deeply touching.

Also priceless: reading the Reynolds footnotes out loud to Mr. Rhod, and listening to him rate them from, "Absolutely true, and well-characterized," to "EHHHH I WOULD'VE USED A DIFFERENT SETUP, BEN, CELTIC V RANGER IS WHERE THE SECTARIANISM REALLY COMES INTO PLAY?"

Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

Was it just the bad formatting on my Kindle? Because hoo boy, this did not live up to the hype. I've heard wonderful things about Louise Penny's Gamache books, and was excited when I got the e-mail saying that this had fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinally come through on the library's e-lending. The front part reminded me a lot of MC Beaton (ugh) with its rampant narrative judge-ry and ridiculous drama-creation and people being absurdly gullible, and it was kinda miserable getting through it. Throw in some of my pet peeves (IF YOU PICK THIRD PERSON LIMITED POV FOR THE GOOD STUFF OF LIMITED KNOWLEDGE AND DEEP DIVE INTERNAL VIEW, YOU DO NOT GET TO JUMP AROUND TO, LIKE, THREE SEPARATE FUCKING PEOPLE WITHIN THE SAME SCENE), total boredom with the murder mystery, and low-key annoyance at how the two gay characters were primarily defined by their gayness, and I was pretty much ready to quit.

The back half was better, I think? Maybe? If Yvette Nichol is what cozy mystery genre fans call a complicated, nuanced character, I'm rolling my eyes into the back of my head. There's more psychological sophistication in a fucking Agatha Christie, ffs.

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